At MyCase, our goal is to help lawyers run their law firms more efficiently and cost-effectively. Whether through webinars, ebooks, or infographics, we love to provide useful resources for solo and small firm lawyers. That’s why we decided to launch this blog post series highlighting recently published books focused on helping lawyers practice law in the 21st century.
One book designed to do just that is “The Experiential Guide to Law Practice Management,” written by Lynne Adair Kramer and Ann L. Nowak. This book walks lawyers through the ins and outs of running a law practice effectively. Importantly, it includes advice and tips from the authors gleaned from running their own law practices. Recently, we caught up with authors to learn more about their book and how it can help solo and small firm lawyers.
What is your background and what inspired you to write a book for law students and lawyers?
Lynne: I spent over 30 years practicing law, starting out by myself with only a part-time assistant. When I closed my firm to move into academia I employed 15 people, had served as the second woman president in 95 years of my county bar association, and had watched many changes take place in both the practice and business of law. I was asked by LexisNexis to update their Law Practice Management text but wanted to change the way the subject was taught. I partnered with Ann to propose a more practical text that would give students and new attorneys the opportunities to take a dry run at opening a practice, hopefully sparing them many of the mistakes they might make when they actually open their offices.
Ann: I set up and ran my own law firm for 19 years before joining Touro; I was inspired to write about running a law firm because it seemed like a good idea to write down all the advice that I was giving to law students when I mentored them.
Writing is an everyday task for a lawyer. What is your number one writing tip for lawyers?
Lynne: Try to write not only in a persuasive fashion, but make sure you write in plain English so that all readers can understand what you are trying to say. If you draft an agreement for a client, they must be able to understand what that agreement means if they have questions or disputes in the future. Writing in “legalese can be boring and confusing
Ann: Don’t overthink your language choices; just get the words down on paper and then go back and edit.
What motivated you to address the particular subject of your book?
Lynne: As I mentioned earlier, I wanted to give readers an opportunity to really consider the issues and decisions they would someday be facing when they opened their offices. Ann and I like the idea of serving as mentors to those following in our footsteps.
Ann: I couldn’t find a good textbook for my Law Practice Management class at Touro Law Center.
Why should every lawyer learn about your book topic?
Lynne: Anyone who runs or works in a law practice needs to understand that you can be altruistic, but in order to have the funds you need to help others, you need to understand how to run a business and make a profit. I always tell my students that the more money you make, the more you have to give.
Ann: Law firms are businesses, and our book provides invaluable advice about how to run the business of practicing law.
How do you hope other lawyers will utilize your book when they practice law?
Lynne: The book is intended to serve as a resource to assist with all types of things the practitioner will face. It talks about the things you need to do when first opening a practice but also provides lots of forms and fee arrangements lawyers can use as a reference throughout the time they practice.
Ann: I hope other lawyers will use it as a roadmap to help them achieve their goal of practicing law with less stress while making more money.
How do you envision your book will help lawyers run their practices?
Lynne: We have gone out of our way to provide information not only concerning every stage of practice, from opening the office, to operating and managing the office, but we have also chosen to talk about managing clients and sometimes making the difficult choice not to take on a client . We also tried to share things that worked for us so that the reader won’t be afraid to do things in a way that he or she thinks will work for him or her regardless of whether it is a traditional choice.
Ann: Our book will help lawyers to avoid making the kinds of mistakes that most lawyers make when they set up and run solo and small-firm practices.
What sets your book apart from other books devoted to the same or similar topics?
Lynne: While the experiential aspect is unique, I think our willingness to deal with the bad things that can happen to a lawyer is something that no other authors have in the past chosen to tackle. We weren’t afraid to talk about grievances, fee disputes, and malpractice. It was our hope to provide some tips to avoid all three, but sometimes these things do happen. We therefore went one step further and gave critical information concerning what to do when you face a fee dispute, grievance, or a claim of malpractice. We even went so far as to provide a sample response to a grievance, which we have never seen in a Law Practice Management book.
Ann: There are a number of things, but my favorites are (1) the writing style that makes us seem more like we’re mentoring than teaching, and (2) the textboxes in which we give examples from our own practices. Our teacher’s manual is also very different from any other that I’ve seen; ours is like a course in a box and includes lots of engaging exercises that our students and colleagues on the faculty have told us they really enjoyed.
What are the top 3 takeaways you hope readers will retain from your book?
Lynne: First: Success is not a fluke. One can go a long way towards insuring success by employing careful thought, planning and execution. Second: When a lawyer opens a practice he or she has the luxury of choosing what types of matters he or she wishes to handle and, equally as important, he or she can decide the character of practice he or she wants to have. But one must have the courage to stick with his or her game plan. Third: Even though sometimes things don’t go as one had hoped or planned, never bury a mistake. Confront it and deal with it as a professional.
Ann: First: With the help of our book, you CAN set up your own law practice and succeed! Second: You don’t need to feel anxious and semi-clueless when you set up your own law business. Third: If you have bought this book and read it, you will be fully equipped to start and run your own law business.